Sunday, December 18, 2016

Robots, Retroactivity and Rogue One

The word of the week is paraphernalia.

Dec 12 – Night Driving

While I was driving in the evening this past weekend, my eyes hurt.

The last year or so, I've noticed that I’ve become sensitive to light at night, and I’ve attributed the change to my eyes aging, along with my close-up vision deteriorating - pretty normal for someone in their 40s.

All the same, it's quite different now driving at night for me: I have to look away from oncoming headlights or suffer sharp pains in my eyes as the light stabs them - not fun. Luckily, I am rarely a driver nowadays and most often the passenger, so I can just shield my eyes and not suffer too much discomfort.

Since wearing sunglasses at night is only cool in ZZ Top songs( not safe! )I've been curious about what options there are for drivers with light sensitivity at night. There's always the cheapo amber-tinted plastic goggles, but all those do for me is intensify the light, which is the exact opposite of what I need: basically clear polarized glasses, very similar to sunglasses but without the dark tent.

After a bit of searching, I came across the Zeiss DriveSafe lenses. According to the information on their website, the lenses are exactly what I'm looking for:

It'd be scary if they made the roads look like THIS...

While I don't need the glasses anytime soon, I'll be checking out places to source them for a possible purchase in 2017, when I will probably need to get a new set of glasses anyway. Nice to know that what I need is out there; now I just have to find a decent price and be able to pay up when I need them.


Dec 13 – VR Ready!

Well, it looks like I'm ready.

According to the Steam VR-Ready app, my system is more than adequate for running virtual reality as it currently exists on the market today:

My system passed - I'm VR ready!

However, I will still need a VR headset in order to enjoy VR, and since those are running around $500 USD or more for basic units, it'll be a while before I actually get around to purchasing one. Now that my major milestone is complete( purchasing a new video-card )I can sit back and see how the rest the VR headset market develops over the next year or two - I'm in no hurry to run out and spend more money, that's for certain.

Though if this game becomes reality( see what I did there? )then I may have to scrape together some bucks somehow( 20-min. playthrough of the Playstation VR game ):



Dec 14 – Pebble Lives... sort of.

It's not as bad as I thought, but still: not great.

Today, Pebble Inc( purchased this year by FitBit, thus ending Pebble as an independent company )announced their plans for what's going to happen to their products for 2017:

FAR better than 'Sorry, your watches are all junk now'

While it's a relief to hear that my smartwatch isn't going to stop functioning anytime soon, it's a sobering reminder that no technology lasts indefinitely and, as in Pebble's case, even the best ideas can be mismanaged into the ground.

I'm hopeful that by the time( argh... )2018 shows up, the groundwork will be in place to ensure that my watch will keep working as long as I can maintain it. I'll be actively looking for a backup Pebble on eBay in the next short while, to ensure that I have one on hand should anything go wrong with my original that can't be fixed by my own hands, such as doing a manual firmware update or the like.

Considering that I use my Pebble every day for all sorts of tasks and it's really quite handy to have when paired with my smart phone, I'm somewhat despondent... but today's news makes me somewhat hopeful that I can continue to use it for another few years yet.


Dec 15   – 10 Days...

In a week and two days, it’ll be Christmas Eve.

This year, I have much to be thankful for, rising above my usual financial worries.

I have a wonderful loving family, an amazing loving girlfriend, a steady full-time job surrounded by lovely people, dozens of lovely friends and a lovely place to live - see a trend there?

With all of the above and more to guide me, I can look forward to a generous future while looking back at how I came to be in this place and the person I am.

One of the formative figures in my youth was Tom Baker, who played Dr. who from 1974-1981, when I was a young lad catching Doctor Who playing on TV Ontario( which in itself was a kind of TV miracle, quite appropriate to mention this time of year )and as I simply ate it up as often as I could catch it on TV.

It's thrilling to me to know that someone that I idolize is still around and still is lovely a person off the screen as he was on - here's a holiday message from my favorite Doctor Who, himself( NOTE - there's no YouTube video, so you have to go to Nerdist to see it ):


Dec 16 –  On my Xmas List

Sometimes I'm just a tad too much of a little kid.

While I'm no collector, on occasion something catches my eye and sticks in my brain long after I've closed the search tab or passed it by in a shop. It's rare though, as I've scaled back massively after moving to BC almost 10 years ago, as I simply don't have the room to collect much of anything besides books and very small, inexpensive items.

However... some things are just too cool to forget.

Like... a levitating Aliens dropship!!!


It's pretty darn cool, I have to admit; the only cooler thing might be a levitating X-wing,.. now that's in my head now, too. Darn it!

WARNING: if you do search for the above collectible, do NOT go to the original site Kids-Toys.com, as it's infected with a malicious virus of some kind. Idiots - I sent them a message, but who knows if they will ever get around to fixing it.


Dec 17 – Rogue One

Wow. They got it right... ( no spoilers below )

I mean, I wasn't expecting anything better than The Force Awakens.. but I was hoping it would be better, from the few snippets of rumour I've allowed myself the last few months. And for a movie whose central theme is hope, it's SO appropriate that it delivered.


Thankfully, I managed to make it into the movie this afternoon spoiler-free, unlike TFA, which last year had thousands of idiots posting spoilers maliciously all over the place beforehand.

I'm pretty satisfied, giving it a solid 9/10. There were a few plot points or character development angles I'd like to have seen explored more, but I was riveted to the screen all the way through the movie. Even the two 5-year olds sitting behind my girlfriend and I, kicking our seats every 10 minutes in boredom( too young to enjoy it? tough luck, twerps! )couldn't detract much from the experience. It was great!

Go see it, if you haven't - it's worth your money, and don't worry: Star Wars is in good hands with Disney.


Dec 18 – FU, FTL!

About 10 days ago, I purchased a Steam game on super-sale for a mere S$4.49 CDN.

Called Faster Than Light, it came out in 2012 and has garnered high praise since then. My own rule for Steam purchases is never to buy anything for more than $10, and to keep it under $5.00 if at all possible, as it's far too easy to just go crazy when Steam sales happen... and then never end up playing the games much at all.

But, after less than a dozen hours playing FTL, I deleted it today from my PC.

Why? Because it's a 'punishment' game... as in, you keep losing, then coming back over and over to improve incrementally while working yourself towards an eventual single victory that is supposed to be all the sweeter for achieving, thanks to permadeath.

I call that a giant Time Suck, one with an exponentially scaling Frustration Factor: neither of which are things that I need right now. Although it's on the recent Top 25 Space Games of All Time from PC Gamer, it's off MY list for now.


Don't get me wrong, I think the game is neat and a fresh take on space adventure games, even considering it's use of retro-pixel art. But to keep dying continuously on the easiest level, even after reading up on various strategies and doing fairly well until the end, I can't justify spending any more time playing it right now - check out the in-depth review here and decide for yourself if it's worth your time.

Maybe sometime later in 2017 once I'm done working on my first two novels and in a better place both financially and mentally... then I can metaphorically beat my head against the computer screen until I crack the game to achieve an oh-so-brief victory rush in FTL.

Right now, I really can't see how it's worth my time or energy.


I've had a pretty decent weekend, having got a lot done around the apartment: things are a lot more organized now and I'm no longer surrounded by piles of chaotic clutter everywhere that I haven't had time to get to in the last month or two. As my legs slowly heals - I haven't needed a cane all week - I can get back to focusing my energies on doing needful things, rather than just getting through each day with the feeling feeling like I've actually accomplished something.